Island Night Lizard May Be Delisted

     WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to remove the island night lizard as a threatened species.
     The island night lizard lives on the San Clemente, San Nicolas and Santa Barbara islands off the coast of Southern California. There are currently believed to be more than 21 million of the lizards on those islands.
     In 2006, Fish and Wildlife published a 90-day finding concluding that delisting the lizard may be warranted, and initiated a status review for the species.
     The lizard was listed as threatened in 1976 based on threats of habitat degradation from livestock grazing on the islands and other farming practices.
     As part of the plan to restore the lizard's population, the Navy removed the last of the feral pigs and goats from San Clemente island in 1992, and has an ongoing program to remove feral cats and rats from the islands.
     The Navy also established a management area for the lizard and the National Park Service designated trails on Santa Barbara island that would avoid destruction of biologically sensitive areas. "Since listing, threats to the island night lizard have been largely ameliorated, including removal of all nonnative herbivores from San Clemente and Santa Barbara Islands and removal of feral cats from San Nicolas Island," the USFWS wrote. "Given that habitat types that are strongly associated with island night lizards appear to be increasing slowly through natural recovery and restoration projects, as well as the amelioration of all substantial threats to the island night lizard, the populations on the three islands appear to be stable."
     The agency also concluded that the lizard or its habitat are not substantially threatened by introduction of non-native species, land development, fire, erosion, or climate change. "We expect that the lizard's susceptibility to climate change is somewhat reduced by its ability to use varying habitat types and by its broad generalist diet; therefore, we do not consider climate change to be a substantial threat to the species at this time," the agency wrote.
     The agency seeks comments on the proposed delisting by April 5.